Does sweet, sweet music help you get into your flow, or does it just turn up the volume of your busy monkey mind? We asked our teachers...
Do you play music in your classes or when you practice yourself? If so, what's top of your playlist?
I sometimes use music in my classes, but I usually don't have it there from beginning to end. I start in silence, at some point when I feel it’s the right time I will add some music, and at some point it’s enough, and I turn it off. When I have music during the asana part I let it be silent during Savasana to balance it out.
I think it’s a tricky one, even though it can certainly enhance your yoga practice at times when done right (timing, volume and kind of music), it can also be distracting and people can get irritated. Besides there is already so much stimulation in daily life, I believe it’s important to create a quiet place with yoga. Because we are so used / addicted to all the stimuli, practicing yoga without music might seem boring, even uncomfortable. We want to keep being stimulated, and it feels good and maybe even needed. The question is though, how good is it really? Is it not better to go through the silence, and discomfort and come out the other end, deeply relaxed and disentangled from the “go-go” energy?
So when music is used, keep the above in mind, and use the music to become quiet, and work towards silence and relaxation! Be careful as a teacher to not use it to fill up the space...
I love Dhafer Youssef, Craig Pruess, Armand Amar, Donna De Lory, Xavier Rudd, Shaman’s Dream and Lindsey Stirling if I want to get things going..
Using music in a class is a wild-card; almost always, two people come up at the end of class and say “what was that lovely music” and one person comes up and says “what was that awful music? Please don’t play that again!”. I like using music from time to time to create a sense of peace and tranquility, but mostly during the lead up to class as people arrive, rather than during. If I’m going to play something before, during or after class it’ll be something subtle and gentle, another pointer back in to the feeling body and stillness.
Favourite tracks past and present: Synchronicity - Om Nama Shivaya, Vandita Kate Marchesiello, Hari Rama, Darshan Ambient - The Zen Master's Diary and anything by Ludovico Einaudi - hauntingly beautiful but might make people cry!
I don't play music in my classes, and very occasionally I do when I practice yoga at home. I find music to be a lovely way to create an atmosphere and to release emotions, but when I teach or practice yoga I find I don't need the extra layer that music adds. I love to create and support a space where people can express and truly, truly be with themselves, and I find that music can somehow create more distractions. I leave the use of music to the skills of experienced Jivamukti teachers, who are good at getting a specific practice with a very appropriate playlist!
Sometimes! When I teach a flow class I tend to play music for more vigorous parts of practice, and the same goes when I practice at home.
My all time favourites are the albums
- Ocean of Devotion & River of Grace both by the Bhakti family group Goma.
- All One by Krishna Das is also high up my list - long tracks with a great build up of energy…
In classic Yoga Teacher answer… it depends! My first 5 years of practicing Yoga were at It’s Yoga in San Francisco where every class had music… loud and groovy. I loved it! I still enjoy it to teach and practice with music. At the same time, I am soooooo easily distracted by just about everything that music can quickly pull me away from why I am practicing.
When the music is used as a tool, like a block or belt to support the practice, then it becomes a powerful force of fine tuning vibrations. The right placed song is just like ‘the right placed pose’ in a sequence and has the potential to really open things up. Ambient music can transport students beyond the daily challenges of life and be a big help to remember the inner world where love always exists. Great beats can carry through powerful parts of a class as well and if used accurately, songs with words that touch the heart can support the teacher’s overall ambiance.
Your own yoga studio
On the flip side, when it serves no purpose other than to be there, music can easily distract attention away from important details or concentration that make good yoga practices into great yoga practices. Sadly (big opinion coming here!!), many yoga teachers pay more attention to their playlist then they do to intelligent sequencing or delivering philosophical insights. If the music is popular, the classes are too… regardless of the depth of the teacher’s experience and ability to transmit Yoga. Also, I am very opinionated about “good” and “bad” music :) Many popular songs are torture to musicians’ ears and finding a right fit for your class is very difficult.
As a teacher…if you use music, please be sure the volume is appropriate for everyone to hear you speak over it. The students are there for YOU! Also, if you stop the class to dive a demo, stop the music too! Gather all the attention and focus.
All that being said… some of my favorite playlist artists: General Fuzz, Cheb I Sabbah, Bonobo, Jai Uttal, Prem Joshua, David Lurey :), Avi Adir
Music can be a very powerful tool during the yoga practice. When I practice at home I don't use music, but when I'm at a studio class I think it has the ability to help energize the students or assist them in surrendering. On the flip side of that it can also be distracting. Most people have an emotional connection to music, so I enjoy what it has to offer while practicing. Like anything in the practice it's all about moderation and balance.
I don't often use music in my own practice. I love to practice with the sound of my own breath and the background noises of my neighbourhood. But every now and then, especially if I feel a bit rigid in my body (or mind) I will put on some nice "flowy" music and make my practice more like a dance-yoga routine! In my classes I often play music in the background to keep the students' attention in the room and not drift away to the sounds in the next room. I also use it to set a tone for the energy in the practice. I have become more creative in my classes with music and play different kinds of music. Among my favourites are Wah, Krishna Das, Alt-J and Sade.
Music and Yoga are two of my biggest loves. To be able to bring them together is wonderful and I really enjoy finding music to flow to when I teach and practice Vinyasa Flow classes.
You can find links to some of my yoga playlists in my article “Good Vibrations, Yoga and Music".
I do not use music often during meditation, but I do in my workshops.
Top in my playlist is
- Anugama (Shamanic Dream)
- Reiki Wellness.
Both offer a great, relaxed atmosphere without getting in the way.
If you have a suggestion for a question you would like to put to the teachers please let us know in the comments below.
This article was originally published on 29th July, 2015 and has been updated with input from new teachers.